ELSC Newsletter: June 2022Published on Mon Jul 11 2022 - modified on Thu Jul 14 2022
This month, at least three cases confirmed, again, that public pressure and collective support, sometimes coupled with litigation, constitute a great tool to achieve our rights as advocates for Palestinian rights!
GERMAN AUTHORITY HOLDS RIAS AND MBR ACCOUNTABLE FOR VIOLATING ANNA YOUNES’ DATA RIGHTS
The Berlin Data Protection Authority (DPA) held German organisations RIAS Berlin and MBR accountable for violating the rights of German Palestinian scholar Dr. Anna-Esther Younes. The two organisations had previously circulated a secret dossier which led to her disinvitation from a public event.
Two years after Dr. Anna Younes filed a complaint to the DPA with our support, the DPA finally found that RIAS/MBR violated European data protection law (GDPR) in refusing to give Dr. Younes access to the data they hold on her. The DPA recognised Dr. Younes’ basic data rights as a European citizen, which comes after another previous success where the civil court affirmed the right of Dr.Younes to have access to her data.
But this is not over yet! RIAS/MBR previously acknowledged that the purpose of the dossier was to identify Dr. Younes’ positions on Israel and BDS. They secretly sent this dossier to a third party to get her disinvited. However, the DPA considered that this was lawful and that RIAS/MBR pursued a legitimate purpose in collecting and transmitting information about Dr. Younes.
We will appeal this decision. Do you want to help us?
Read more in the last media articles published about the case:
– See an update by Dania Akkad in Middle East Eye
– this piece by Hebh Jamal in +972 Magazine
– a piece in German by Nidal Thawri in Marx21
– an oped by Abir Kopty in Middle East Eye
EU RESUMES FUNDING TO TWO PALESTINIAN NGOS
After Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq started legal proceedings against the European Commission for suspending its funding in May 2021 based on an Israeli disinformation campaign, the EU recognised there were no grounds to do so and resumed its funding to Al Haq on 28 June 2022.
The EU also resumed unconditionally and with immediate effect its funding to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which had faced the same suspension as Al-Haq.
MOHAMMED EL KURD V. GOETHE INSTITUTE
The prominent Palestinian activist and poet Mohammed El Kurd faced an attempt of censorship at a conference organised by the Goethe Institute in Hamburg about right-wing extremism and authoritarian regimes’ tactics, where he was invited to speak. Few days before the start of the conference, the institution revoked the invitation, raising social media posts criticizing Israel that they “did not find acceptable”. In solidarity with El Kurd, the curators of the conference Moshtari Hilal and Sinthujan Varatharajah withdrew their participation and denounced the climate of anti-Palestinian racism in German institutions. Thanks to this push back, many other participants of the event withdrew, which led to the entire program being scaled down.
OTHER CASE UPDATES IN GERMANY
We also celebrate a victory in Stuttgart this month, as the City of Stuttgart decided it will not appeal the decision issued by the Stuttgart Administrative Court on 21 April 2022 in favour of the Stuttgart Palestine Committee. The Court had upheld the Committee’s complaint against the City’s decision to remove their access and details from the Municipality’s website.
This incident had happened following a smear campaign launched by the Jerusalem Post against the Committee because of its support to the Palestinian-led BDS movement. The City of Stuttgart had justified its decision citing the Bundestag’s anti-BDS resolution, while the Court had recalled that the BDS movement is protected by freedom of expression and that the Bundestag’s resolution is not binding.
But this time, the City acknowledged the illegality of their decision. One of their spokespersons said:
for purely legal reasons, we have decided not to appeal against it. Based on the current jurisprudence, as it has been elsewhere, we estimate the chances of being successful with an appeal to be very low. That is why we have put the address of the Palestine Committee back on the municipal homepage.
Palestinian-Jordanian journalist Farah Maraqa, who has been unfairly dismissed by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) along with five other Arab journalists in February 2022, published an update about her court case against DW.
AUSTRIA: THE CASE OF PALESTINIAN SCHOLAR WALAA ALQAISIYA
Dr. Walaa Alqaisiya, Research Fellow at Columbia University, the LSE Middle East Centre and Università Ca’ Foscari, also faced anti-Palestinian racism and censorship from Austrian public institutions when she was disinvited by the Mumok Museum and the Academy of Fine Arts of Vienna from their Spring Curatorial Program at the end of May 2022. The cancellation of her lecture followed a smear campaign on social media and a complaint from pro-Israel advocacy groups. Art media Art Forum and Hyperallergic wrote about the episode.
Hundreds of artists, writers and academics, including Judith Butler, Roger Waters, Angela Davis and Dirk Moses, have voiced their outrage in the wake of the last-minute cancellation, which pushed one of the co-curators to remove the remainder of the program from the premises of the cancelling institutions. Nevertheless, the Fine Arts Academy and the MUMOK still have not stepped back on their statement, nor recognised the damage done to Dr. Alqaisiya’s reputation. She is still waiting for a public apology from the Rector of the Fine Arts Academy and further explanation on the decision making process.
7 MORE MONTHS TO BAN EU TRADE WITH ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS WORLDWIDE!
Join the European Citizens Initiative #StopSettlements to ban EU trade with illegal settlements!
With one million EU citizens signing the Initiative, the EU will have to reassess its complicity with illegal settlements. It would be an historical step in realigning the EU with its own rules when it comes to trade and in making Israel accountable for its illegal settlement policy.
Send the petition to your friends, family members. Share on your chat groups and social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
UK: LEGAL ACTION AGAINST TWITTER TROLL AFTER AN ONLINE SMEAR CAMPAIGN
Peter Bolton is a journalist with The Canary, where he writes about Israel-Palestine among other topics. One year ago, Peter Bolton published a piece denouncing the continuous smear campaigns and unfounded allegations of antisemitism made against the Left in the UK.
Following that, Peter Bolton became himself the target of similar unfounded allegations on Twitter. A fake Twitter account started to spread smears against the journalist, which were amplified by other accounts and retweeted many times. Peter Bolton decided to take legal action against the troll to make it accountable and deter others who would spread defaming allegations online against anyone standing for justice with Palestinians and Palestinian rights advocates.
EVENTS: PANEL DISCUSSION IN THE NETHERLANDS
Last month, the ELSC joined the in-person panel organised in Amsterdam by the Leonhard-Woltjer Foundation (LWS) and Een Ander Joods Geluid (A Different Jewish Voice) on “How Israel lobbies make it harder to speak up against Israel’s policies”.
Our Advocacy and Communication Officer Alice Garcia joined Dina Zbeidy (anthropologist at Leiden University and LWS board member), Peter Beinart (professor of journalism and Editor-at-large of Jewish Currents), as well as Layla Kattermann and Itaï van de Wal (student activists in Leiden and Utrecht universities) in the panel to give an overview of the situation in The Netherlands (see from 45min).
OTHER GOOD NEWS FROM EUROPE
In a milestone decision for accountability and Palestinian rights, Catalonia Parliament became the first Parliament in Europe to recognise that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, after the approval of a resolution.